Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s soccer falls to Central Connecticut 3-0 in home opener -

August 19, 2017

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

How to transform UMass into a more brotherly campus

One of the features that gives aspiring University of Massachusetts applicants pause – I know I was one – is the sheer size of the University. Switching from a high school of perhaps 2,000 students to a college with over 24,000 can be a shock. To combat this impression, different groups on campus market the University in different ways. Join Commonwealth College, we are told, it is a school within a school! Live in Orchard Hill instead of the overpopulated Southwest! Choose a small major; small classes and a closer rapport with professors will follow! At one point, I followed each of the above recommendations, but, still, the size and lack of a tight UMass community is one of the problems UMass faces.

This will be the first in a series looking at ways the University can shake things up and create a more close-knit student body.

Think about it. In what ways does UMass promote the community aspect of college? There are athletic events every weekend, but few of these are interesting enough to attract a large crowd. In the fall, football is a draw, but this is mostly used as an excuse to start drinking earlier. Of the two games I tailgated, few of the people I was with even bothered going into the game. In the winter, only men’s hockey and basketball attract a large crowd, but the basketball team’s struggles are a good enough excuse not to go. In the spring, softball and men’s lacrosse are fun, but they do not stir the emotions of the entire University.

School spirit for athletics is sorely lacking.

There are plays, concerts and other artistic events, but the vast majority of the student body prefers not to attend. The few plays I have attended have been well done but sparsely attended. The same goes for the couple of jazz concerts I have attended. It is unfortunate, but it is the truth. Various Registered Student Organizations do an incredible job of having meetings and outings, but they usually only concern a finite number of students.

It is apparent that the school needs to do things outside the box to bring the “we” back to “We are UMass.” Sitting in the library the other day, doing everything possible to avoid some tedious reading, it was impossible not to catch myself turning to the campus pond time and time again. The only things that seem to enjoy the campus pond, even in the winter, are some geese and some ducks. It is unfair! I want go swimming – well, that might be a little crazy. It is not the most appealing body of water I have ever seen, and although I have heard an interesting story about a friend’s adventure in the pond one night, I would not be one to go for a dip.

Yet, that is not the only option available. A yearly ritual among my friends is to sneak into the Lars Anderson rink in Brookline, Mass. to play some midnight hockey. Whenever possible, kids in my neighborhood routinely clean off a frozen pond in some woods normally reserved for underage drinking to play pond hockey. With this in mind, it was impossible not to imagine using the Campus Pond for hockey or ice skating. Imagine the spectacle of students cruising around the pond, once it freezes over, on skates between classes. Think the Bruins game at Fenway Park was a success? How many students would love an opportunity to play some pond puck right in the middle of campus? Sure, we could go to the Mini Mullins or play intramural hockey, but ice time and teams are severely limited.

Scientifically, such a plan may be out of reach. Looking at the pond, it never quite freezes all the way around meaning it is probably never thick enough to support skaters. If the water is stagnant, however, logically, it should freeze eventually once it gets cold enough. The pond freezing is only one sure roadblock. Of course, the University Administration would have problems with letting whomever skate, as there would be legal issues to be worked out. Further fears about regulating who skates, when and preventing drinking would be other obstacles. So, this idea is probably too far-fetched to have any legs.

The point is not that in order to create a more vibrant UMass community, UMass needs to figure a way to let us students play hockey on the campus pond. The point is that the current approach to building student cohesion is not working. Yes, this university is close, but there are distinct lines drawn between groups of people and no way to bring them all together. The athletics program will never get big enough to match the school spirit of a Penn State, Michigan or the University of Southern California, yet there are other ways of making it happen. More school sponsored activities that do not come from the usual college handbook might help. The campus pond is one example, next week I will look at another, more probable idea.

Nick Milano is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached

3 Responses to “How to transform UMass into a more brotherly campus”
  1. Dan says:

    Love the article and agree 100% with the pond hockey idea.

  2. Ed says:

    The problem with the pond is that it isn’t a pond. It is a RIVER – a natural drainage brook that was dug in Colonial times when the swamp known as Amherst was drained. (Ever notice how all the brooks in Amherst run in straight lines? They were all hand dug.)

    The brook that runs behind the Sorority houses goes underground and comes out north of the FAC, it flows the length of the “pond” and then goes underground again, under the Campus Center, jogs west by the old power plant (it was the origional source of water for the steam) and the comes back aboveground in Hadley.

    It was this brook (and the pipe) that overflowed two Monday’s ago and why the cars by the visitor’s center were underwater.

    Now, moving water does not freeze. And the water is warmed when it goes under the FAC due to heat from the building. And this means that the ice down the center of the pond is going to have a weak spot and never be safe, particuarlly up by the FAC.

    Now as to taking a fire hose and flooding the field in the middle of the Southwest Horseshoe – well that would require (a) intellegent thinking in student affairs and (b) a true desire to see students happy so we would never see that happening…

  3. Jack says:

    Once again, let us thank Ed for another irreverent, ill-informed blast.
    As for you, Milano, this is a newspaper, not the Cubscouts’ Review. And this is a college, too; if you want to skate, go to the Mullins Center free-skate on saturdays. And this is a gun: it goes “boom.”

Leave A Comment